HawthoRNe: Season One (Sony) – Jada Pinkett Smith is Christina Hawthorne, the Chief Nursing Officer at a dysfunctional, financially-starved city hospital serving both military veterans and local civilians, in the second new medical series seen from the perspective of the nursing staff. Hawthorne is also the latest of the damaged heroes on TV who defy authority to stand up for their staff and patients but aren’t nearly so good about looking after themselves.
A widow still struggling with the death of her military officer husband (the show opens on the one-year anniversary of his death), Hawthorne is passionate, angry, headstrong, rebellious and confrontational, has no patience with intolerance or superiority or apathy (from doctors or patients) and very poor maternal instincts, which is tough for a single mother with a rebellious teenage daughter (Hannah Hodson) who is as strong-willed as she is. She’s not the most likable character on TV, and not as interesting as the more self-destructive Nurse Jackie, but she runs a good crew in a floundering hospital. Suleka Mathew (from one of my favorite shows, Da Vinci’s Inquest) is her second in command and helps humanize Hawthorne and Michael Vartan is the Chief of Surgery who alternately defends Hawthorne to the board and butts heads with her defiant approach to medicine. Her crew consists of David Julian Hirsh (the self-conscious male nurse who bristles at insolent conceit of staff doctors), Christina Moore (the hot nurse who gives a little extra to the veterans) and Vanessa Lengies (the young, emotionally vulnerable rookie nurse).
10 episodes on three discs in a standard case with a hinged tray, plus eight very brief featurettes. These are more promotional pieces than behind-the-scenes information but one of them does illustrate how Suleka Mathew gets her titanium leg, which is pretty neat.
Johnny Bravo: Season One (Cartoon Network Hall of Fame) (Warner) – Whoa, mama! One of the first signature original shows made for the Cartoon Network, Johnny Bravo was a would-be lady killer with an Elvis drawl, a blonde pompadour and the intellectual capacity of a housefly. In the words of creator Van Partible, he was “A harmless big idiot who loved his mama, and himself,” and he spends every episode trying to pick chicks with his moldy pick-up lines, preening poses and deluded self-confidence. In one episode he meets the Scooby-Doo squad (and gets shot down by Daphne), and other celebrity stars include Farrah Fawcett, Adam West and Donny Osmond. Self-aware and full of pop culture references, it’s goofy and good fun. Seth McFarlane was one of the main writers. Commentary on three episodes by creator Van Partible and others, a temp track for music prepared by Seth McFarlane on one episode and the 12-minute featurette “Bringing Up Bravo,” which revisits the origins and evolution of the character and the show.
The New Adventures of Robin Hood (Warner Archive) – Produced in the wake of Sam Raimi’s tongue-in-cheek mythological adventure shows “Hercules” and “Xena,” this Euro-American cable series (shot in Lithuania) tosses away any thought of historical legitimacy or respect for the original folk tales. This Robin Hood (played by American Matthew Porretta with a roguish mustache) battles Vikings, witches, a dragon and even the Mongols, who unleash their martial arts moves (really?) in Sherwood Forest in the first episode (itself a “Seven Samurai” knock-off). The wit is dull, the action clumsy and the cast (largely British actors struggling to sound American) bland, though Anna Galvin’s Marion looks hot in bodice (apparently from the local Victoria’s Medieval Secret). Even Christopher Lee looks embarrassed in his recurring role. 13 episodes on four discs with no supplements. Available through the Warner Archive.
MacGyver: The TV Movies (Paramount) – After seven seasons of saving the world with a Swiss Army Knife, a roll of duct-tape and any detritus at hand, Richard Dean Anderson reprised his role as MacGyver, the swashbuckling Mr. Wizard of American spy, in a pair of 1994 TV movies. He goes Indiana Jones in “The Lost Treasure of Atlantis,” where an expedition with his old archeology professor (Brian Blessed, doing John Rhys-Davies duty) uncovers an ancient ark, priceless artifacts and plenty of villains, and takes on modern terrorists in “Trail to Doomsday,” with little more than a Swiss Army knife as his weapon of choice. Both on a single disc, no supplements.
Also new this week: The PBS Masterpiece Theatre production Small Island (PBS), the British seventies series Raffles: The Complete Collection (Acorn), plus Sanctuary: The Complete Second Season (E1), The Secret Life of the American Teenager: Volume Four (Disney) and Trial and Retribution: Set 4 (Acorn).